Follow The Leader

There are Pastors and Presidents who are strolling along in their quest to lead followers toward their personal or appointed goals. The mistake they make is an occasional glance behind to find out who or how many are following. I am presently observing a President who hasn't a clue that his followers are melting away, mainly because he is not leading them to where he said he would.

  This article is a personal article. It would actually be classified as a diary entry, but I have decided to make it public for anyone who finds it and finds it interesting. First of all, I must admit, I am at a low ebb in my attitudes.
  When I first came to this place, I came because a friend preacher needed help and had asked if I could assist him temporarily. I had no other agenda at that moment, so responded. Moved here lock stock and barrel. We had left our former place with a small U-Haul truck and a Plymouth Horizon packed to the gills. I had left there because I was tired of fighting tooth and toenail for the Bible standards that I know to be true. I would probably have stayed if my opponents were on the outside attacking, but many of my opponents there were already on the inside of that ministry. I started that church and the Lord ordered me to close it after 11 years of roller coasting. I was not heart broken to leave, I was relieved. Though I still have a couple of friends there, most of the former members were also relieved that I was leaving. A fellow pastor and his church gave me a plaque commemorating my 11 year stay. One thing I know for sure, I did not quit in the midst of the battle, I did not compromise my position. I was just overwhelmed and God knew it. He is gracious, not giving us more than we can bear.

  In 1985 my wife and I with Lyndi wound up back in Springfield with no further goal or field vision. I was considering just get a job and stop messing up God's works. Well back to the invitation to come to Macon. I had filled the pulpit one week and was invited to return the following week. The second time the ailing pastor was well enough to attend. He then asked if I would consider moving up and filling in until he could get back on his feet. I was willing, not having any other place to go; however I would not have come if I didn't have the peace of God.
  The church hired me as an assistant to him only able to provide us a place to live. The first place was a moldy old trailer house next to a stagnant lake, but we willingly moved in. The mold immediately began its effects, so in three months, the church had agreed to find us another place. By that time I had begun to support myself with a local job at the newspaper. So we began to fit into the ministry of Faith Baptist Church doing whatever the pastor asked of us. This went on from July until the middle of December. The pastor had one more operation to undergo for some final correction, no problems anticipated. He did not return alive from that operation. We immediately stepped in to help the widow. A men's meeting brought a surprise to me. Someone suggested we give the widow two weeks to get out of town. We did not allow that to happen, but stayed with her until the following February. Meanwhile, I was approached about stepping into the pastoral position. I agreed only with 100% approval. I don't know how the vote went, but was told it was 100%. A few nights later I was invited to a home of a member. Seven people there told me what I could do and what I could not do. I would not be allowed to sit in the former pastor's chair on the platform. I was given the impression they loved their former pastor and no one could take his place. Rather than raise a stink, anything that was not doctrinal, I allowed their wishes. Two major doctrinal issues were raised in the next few weeks. The first was alien baptism, and the majority of the church stood with me so the scriptural stand was kept. The second question was storehouse tithing. Again the scriptural stand was held by the majority and it stood. I had a meeting with the men and was greatly pleased to find that the majority of the church took the same doctrinal stand that I have. So much different than Connecticut!

  The Faith Promise plan of supporting missionaries was already in place so it was not necessary for me to take any leadership in that matter. Actually the only issue that I had to deal with was women's attire. The former pastor did not have any dress standard, in fact his wife commonly wore slacks. Wilda and I simply made it clear of our convictions and though I did not make it a major issue, I did not compromise my stand. Strangely, it wasn't long before the whole town thought that we were the "no women's pants" church. That became a pertinent question on visitation. People would say things like, "you don't let women wear pants do you?" Of course I had no choice but to voice my conviction on this matter, but never did make it a standing rule of no pants. Eventually several women in the church, no longer paid any attention to the matter and wore what they wanted. I remember having a sermon point on the scriptural teaching about pants, and two of the prominent members chided me on that day. You may call it compromise, but I took the church with no standards in that regard. Who am I to change it? I could only preach it, and I still do when it is a point to be made, but it will not become my main message. I have always found when people get right with God, their whole lives are changed including what they wear.

  When I was called as pastor, I was asked if I would be full time and quit my newspaper job. I agreed and started out with $159.00 a week and a roof over my head. I have never asked for any of the raises I have received through the years. I only had one man who talked with me about my financial needs and he died in 92.

  Faith Baptist is an independent Baptist Church, but as a church it is not a soul winning church. The first pastor from 1973 won several, three of which remain to this day. We have none that were won by the second pastor. My wife and I won 13 people to Christ our first year in this small town. Only one lasted 3 years, married a local and was cheated on and left to marry a non-baptist. I have won people to Christ through the 25 years here, but none stick. One most glaring example, one of my men and I were doing block work one night, came to this trailer house on 5th street. A young man 20 or 25 was standing at the door almost waiting for us. In a few moments he had received Christ and I encouraged him to come to church in two days on sunday. He said he wouldn't be able to for he was moving out of Macon to Wichita Falls, Texas to join his wife on Saturday. I have many stories with the same theme. Needless to say, I have constantly affirmed before Faith Baptist that we need to be a nest for young believers. We must not have or show an attitude that we do not accept certain types of people. I actually heard one of my men tell another that we don't want, "that kind" in our church. The other fellow quickly reminded, "I was that kind when I came here." (by the way the second fellow is now also gone.) We have tried every form of visitation out of our church, but have gained no lasting fruit. Normally if we try to extend a visitation program, we wind up with 2 or 3 people waddling down the street with no energy or anticipation of winning the loss. We just place flyers or tracts in the door and move on. Besides my wife and I, I only know of two other members who have personally won anyone to Christ in the last 10 years.

  The main strength of the outreach of FBC has been missions. As I said earlier, it was in full swing when I came. We have added projects each year of my ministry here and God has enabled us to maintain support, never missing a month for a top of 80 projects. We have gone through seasons of fluctuations of attendance and offerings, but have maintained. In recent years we had begun to focus on re-locating and have land bought and paid for. In 2008 there was a lot of enthusiam for building and we began to draw plans. Someone figured up the costs of building and almost like a balloon, the vision popped and several men said, "we can't!" so we haven't! Three families, consequently left for other churches in other cities and our power base of membership blew a fuse. For the first time in 25 years, a rumor has popped up that if, "I am not stopped, I am going to do the same thing I did in Connecticut; which is to close the church."

  I was taught in Bible college that the biggest deterrent to a church is it developing an attitude of us 4 and no more. If new comers and visitors don't match some sort of criteria, they are not accepted. I have watched as people I have literally sweat for to keep, have been frozen out or pushed out. Because I have shown discouragement and allowed my humanity to reveal itself, I suddenly feel like the leader who has no one to follow.

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